Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Getting somewhere with this roof

When we arrived on site, the first four of the triangle frames (a very scientific construction term) were in place. We finished them off, then put up some sturdy beams before adding the OSB.

Here are Harry and Fefe, a friend of a homeower, taking a minute to figure some things out.

The finished roof

The OSB is on the roof
Originally uploaded by kristenkk2
After 5 days of hammering, bolting, leveling, andOSB boarding, the frame of the roof was completed. Mare was even harnessed off of it for awhile. Donny, the 18 year old son of the homeowner, was the number one builder up there. Of course, Harry, our Canadian team member, came in a close second.

Habitat in Hajduboszormeny

We finished up our first volunteer stint of the trip and had an amazing time.

After some relaxation at Lake Balatan, Hungary's answer to the Jersey Shore, we met the rest of our Habitat for Humanity crew in Budapest, and the next day boarded a bus to the small town of Hajdubozsormeny, a few hours west of Budapest.

Hajdu (that's what we call it for short) is a town of about 30,000. There are about 400 families in need of better housing. The main industry in Hajdu is agriculture. The Habitat Chapter in Hajdu began in 2007. Despite the Chapter's short life, much has been done already. There are four duplexes being built, and the eight families are expected to move into their new homes this September.

When we arrived in Hajdu, our group of 13 was warmly greeted by the HFH Volunteer Coordinator, Sandor, who turned out to be our tour guide for the week, a supervisor on the build and an all around incredible person. Pisti, the HFH Construction Supervisor, was equally amazing and so patient. We spent most of our time working on two of the four duplexes. During our week there, we put a roof on one home and insultated the outside of another home. With every hole drilled, board braced and styrofoam piece fit just so, we got to know the homeowner families, the HFH staff and each other. We reached new heights. Literally. One afternoon Kristen drilled in insulation from the high scaffolding, while Mary was harnassed to a roof drilling in OSB board.

Our group had represenation from the US, The Northern Territories of Canada and the coolest Australian brother-sister duo around. After our goodbyes to our new friends in Hajdu, we headed back to Budapest for some touring. Between a ticket on the metro, a participant's stolen bag, and that gypsy that pushed Mary, Budapest really didn't want us to like it. But we love it. Rich history, beautiful buildings, and baths all over the place...its worth a trip.

We're very thankful to Seth, our team leader, the rest of the volunteers, the HFH staff, the homeowners, and all the generous people who donated to the trip, for making this possible.

If you're ever in Hungary, make a stop in Hajdubozsormeny, not only will you meet amazing people, but you'll learn how to pronounce the name of the town.

More stories about our Habitat trip coming soon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Czech it out.

We promise we're having a better time than this picture would lead you to believe. Here we were coming out of our dorm at the "hostel" in Bratislava, Slovakia. The university dorms are converted to hostel rooms in the summer. They were simple, to say the least.

Now for the cutest town you've ever seen...

Cesky Krumlov. It sounds like something out of a movie and it looks like it too. It has everything from quaint cobblestone streets, to a castle with a bear moat, kielbasa being barbecued on the corner, and funny Irishmen. Pay it a visit if you can.

Now we're coming to you from the Villa Benjamin hostel in Lake Balatan, Hungarz. That's actually Hungary but the z and y are switched on this computer. Lake Balatan offers a taste of the Jersey Shore complete with ill-fitting acid wash shorty shorts and overpriced fried food. But with a hint of paprika. All the guide books told us the Hungarians love their paprika and lo and behold, it's right there on the table with the salt and pepper.

We're gearing up to meet our crew from Habitat this Saturday. After a night in Budapest we'll head to Hadju and get to work. Stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Greetings from Prague!

We arrived safe and sound in Prague, our first stop on the big VolunTour. There are a bunch of Aussies waiting for the internet so this must be brief. All in all, Prague is adorable with its quaint cobblestone alleys. Kris and I try to pronounce words but it usually sounds like Baklava or Anna Kornikova when we say it. The locals laugh at us in a "we´re definitely laughing at you not with you" way. Today we took a lovely stroll along the river to Vyrshtad, and then took in the lovely greenery there. Not sure what it is exactly. Kings quarters, a cemetary, a pretty church. Then we attempted to walk to the train with the goal of hitting the Yellow Market. That resulted in a 2 hour walk in the same general vicinity and no sight of the train. So we strolled back, stopping for a delicious yogurt on the way. I don´t know what the Europeans do to their yogurt but it is far superior to American yogurt.

We´ve posted some pictures to our Flickr page, but the internet is slow, so we´ll post the rest another time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

And we're off!

In about an hour I'll board the bus to NYC, and hopefully have no problem meeting Kristen at the Port Authority, where we'll take the bus to JFK. Our flight to Prague leaves from there at 9:30 tonight. I'm excited and nervous and don't really know what to expect. I guess that's travel for ya. We'll try to post updates as often as we can. Talk to you from Prague!